Best Handheld Vacuums of 2018

Noel Case ·
Updated
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We have been reviewing handheld vacuums since 2014 and have spent more than 200 hours researching and testing the best handheld vacuums we could find. We combined extensive online research with testing in our labs to compare features and performance of these devices, to help you make an informed buying decision. The best handheld vacuum we found was the Black & Decker Dustbuster. It is a quiet, lightweight vacuum that performed well in all of our tests. It is designed to reach tight spots around your home and car and effectively cleans all surfaces and types of debris.   

Best Overall
Black & Decker Dustbuster
The Black & Decker Dustbuster is a quiet, lightweight handheld vacuum with more suction than most cordless vacs and integrated tools that help you get to tight areas around your house and car.
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Best Value
Eureka EasyClean
The Eureka Easy Clean is an affordable vacuum that performed among the best vacuums in our tests. It effectively picked up debris on all surfaces except the car seat, whose crevices created problems. This was one of the most powerful handheld vacuums in our reviews.
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Best Pet Hair Vacuum
Bissell Pet Hair Eraser
The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is a corded vacuum with plenty of suction power and a head designed for effectively picking up pet hair. The side exhaust and lack of attachments make it less effective at cleaning debris like sawdust on carpets and hard wood.
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Product
Price
Overall Rating
Vacuuming Performance
Portability
Design Features
Warranty & Support
Phone & Email
Warranty
Chat
FAQs
Attachable Hose
Crevice Tool
Mountable Charger
Brush Tool
HEPA Filtration
Wide-Mouth Tool
Run Time (minutes)
Charge Time (hours)
Weight (pounds)
Car Seat Test
Pickup, Pet Hair
Pickup, Carpet
Noise Level (dB)
Pickup, Hardwood
Suction Power (oz)
$32.29Amazon
8.5 8.8 9.3 6 10
2 Years
N/A
N/A
N/A
15
8
2.4
90%
80%
95%
79
95%
4.7
$79.99Amazon
7.9 5.8 8.8 10 10
2 Years
N/A
24
8
2.9
75%
75%
90%
83
90%
3.6
$43.61Amazon
7.8 10 6 7 6.3
1 Year
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
4.8
70%
95%
100%
93
100%
16
$71.25Amazon
7.8 6.3 9 8 10
2 Years
N/A
N/A
17
6
4
85%
80%
90%
94.4
80%
16
$39.00Amazon
7.8 6.8 9.5 6 10
3 Years
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
13
6
2.2
70%
75%
90%
81
90%
4.1
$218.99Amazon
7.4 5.5 10 6 10
2 Years
N/A
N/A
N/A
6
3
3.4
85%
80%
80%
94.9
70%
N/A
$41.19Amazon
7.1 5.3 9.8 6 8.8
3 Years
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
17
6
3.25
85%
50%
90%
88.8
75%
8
$57.30Amazon
6.6 7.8 4.3 8 6.3
1 Year
N/A
N/A
N/A
10
16
4.2
90%
95%
95%
81
80%
16
$29.49Amazon
6.4 7.5 8.5 1 6.3
1 Year
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
17
N/A
3.45
75%
100%
80%
85
90%
17
$98.99Amazon
5.2 2.5 8 7 3.8
1 Year
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
2.7
85%
30%
75%
92.5
60%
5
Best Overall

Black & Decker Dustbuster

The Black & Decker Dustbuster performed better than every other handheld vacuum in our side-by-side comparison. It has a built-in crevice tool that reaches tight spaces so you can clean efficiently.
This Dustbuster effectively vacuumed up sawdust on hard floors and carpets. When compared with other cordless vacuums, it was one of the best. While no cordless vacuum has quite as much suction power as corded vacuums, it makes up for this with convenience. This device can clean up messes of all kinds in any space in your house or car. It is equally efficient at cleaning up light debris like leaves and heavier debris like kitty litter and dog food on all kinds of surfaces, including carpet, hardwood and automobile flooring. This vacuum didn’t have the tendency that other vacuums we tested had of blowing the debris around as it cleared a path. The exhaust was released out the back of the machine, so it cleaned with fewer passes and less work. This vacuum had a bit of problem picking up ground-in pet hair on carpet, but this was a common issue with many of the vacuums we tested. Despite its cleaning power, it was the quietest vacuum we tested, so you can clean up messes without disturbing people nearby. It’s also a lightweight vacuum that won’t cause excessive fatigue. The battery lasts a respectable 15 minutes with each charge, which was slightly longer than average when compared with the other vacuums. Its charge time of eight hours, in contrast, is longer than average. The Dustbuster has the convenience of integrating its useful crevice and brush tools onto the body of the vacuum so they are always handy and just need to be snapped into place. It comes with an above average two-year warranty.
Pros
  • This is the quietest handheld vacuum we tested.
  • The exhaust is released out the back so it doesn’t blow the debris it’s cleaning up.
  • The crevice and brush tools are integrated into the body of the vacuum.
Cons
  • It had a tough time vacuuming up ground-in pet hair on carpet.
  • The charge time of eight hours is longer than average.
  • It lacks a wide-mouth tool and an attachable hose.
$32.29Amazon
Best Value

Eureka EasyClean

The Eureka Easy Clean is an affordable hand vacuum designed to pick up debris of all kinds on multiple surfaces.
It has a visor on the front that flips up to clean upholstery, carpet and stairs with a brush roll. You can turn off the brush roll to clean up dirt and dust on hardwood, counters and tables. Aside from our car seat test, the Eureka vacuum performed better in our tests than any other hand vac we tested. It took only two passes to clean up the entire area in our sawdust test on carpet, which was half as many as the next best vacuum. It is equally good at cleaning hard surfaces and only took three passes to clean up debris on that surface with the roller turned off. It also performed among the best when it came to cleaning pet hair, which many vacuums struggled with. This vacuum got rid of 95 percent of the hair we spread around the carpet. The one test it didn’t perform great on was our car seat test. This was largely because attaching the crevice tool seemed to pull power away from the motor and it struggled to pick up dirt in tight areas or crevices of a seat. This vacuum is also lacking in portability. It is corded, which accounts for much of its power, but that means you will always have to be near an outlet to use it, making it less than convenient if you’re using it on the road. The included hose helps compensate for this. You can leave the vacuum in one spot and clean up a different area with the hose. This vacuum is also one of the noisiest and heaviest vacuums in our lineup. Running it for long periods can be fatiguing.
Pros
  • Its overall performance scores were among the best on most surfaces.
  • The brush tool is integrated and works well on carpet, but can be turned off on hard floor.
  • It effectively cleans up pet hair on carpet.
Cons
  • The powerful motor was the second loudest in our lineup.
  • It had a hard time picking up sawdust on a car seat.
  • It doesn’t clean tight areas well.
$42.99Amazon
Best Pet Hair Vacuum

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser

The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser lives up to its name and is one of the best vacuums for pet owners. It is a very affordable, simple vacuum with two attachments: the pet hair attachment, which does exactly what it says, and the flathead attachment for cleaning up everything else.
Like other corded vacuums, the Bissell has plenty of suction power, but it still got mixed results in our tests. It excelled in our suction test, easily picking up a box filled with 17 ounces of screws with its flathead attachment. It was the only vacuum to get a perfect score in our pet hair removal test, completely sucking up ground-in pet hair in our test carpets. The only problem with this test was some of the hair got wrapped around the pet hair attachment and made cleaning the vacuum after the test difficult. This vacuum was less successful in our other tests, however. Its power and design sometimes worked against it, for instance, when vacuuming up sawdust on carpet and hard floors. The side exhaust would blow the debris around, so we had to vacuum twice. Still, its suction power helped it get rid of the debris in repeat passes. It also wasn’t a top performer in our car seat tests. The lack of a crevice tool hurt it in this test because it had a hard time negotiating the crevices on the seat. Cleaning tight spots is also a problem with this vacuum.
Pros
  • It performed better than any other vacuum in our pet hair tests.
  • It has a lot of suction and performed well in the suction tests.
  • This is a low-priced vacuum.
Cons
  • This vacuum is corded and has limited portability.
  • It is one of the heaviest vacuums in our reviews.
  • It lacks a crevice tool for cleaning tight spaces.
$28.79Amazon

Why Trust Us
Since we started reviewing handheld vacuums in 2014, we have spent more than 200 hours testing and researching. First we identified the best handheld vacuums on the market through extensive research, both online and consulting with professionals. We continued our online research, comparing product pages for specific features of all the vacuums in our lineup. In our labs we put the vacuums through their paces and tested them on different surfaces, including carpets, hard floors and car seats, to see which vacuum performed best overall and which excelled at specific tasks. Our findings are presented in our side-by-side comparison chart and our reviews.      

How We Tested: What Sucks and What Doesn’t About Handheld Vacuums
The two most important components of the best handheld vacuums are performance and portability. Suction power is important, especially if you are trying to pull up stubborn dirt in crevices and corners, or pet hair that tends to stick to upholstery. Portability focuses on how easy it is to carry around a small vacuum while using it. It also looks at convenience factors, such as the battery life and how heavy the machine is.

In addition to the obvious functions of pick-up and maneuverability, we also considered design features that give some handheld vacuum cleaners a leg up on the competition. For example, products such as the Hoover Air Cordless use a HEPA filtration system that enables them to meet air quality standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy and remove 99.97 percent of dust particles and keep them from blowing back into the air during vacuuming.

Vacuuming Performance

We performed many tests to determine how well each hand vacuum picks up a variety of common items, including cereal and wood shavings. We rubbed dog hair into carpeting and went into volunteer pet owner homes to test how well portable vacuums were able to pick up both cat and dog hair from upholstered furniture such as couches and chairs to help us determine which models had better suction.

To further test suction capabilities of small hand vacuum cleaners, we put screws in a flat-topped container and recorded how many screws each unit could hold for five seconds. Those capable of holding more weight received higher marks for suction.

Portability
As part of the portability tests we timed how long the battery lasted when fully charged. This is important if you need to tackle more than one mess or have an unusually big mess, such as dried leaves or cookie crumbs in your car, that may require some extra cleaning time.

We weighed each portable vacuum cleaner to give you a good idea how cumbersome and tiring it may become while using the vacuum. We also considered how long it takes to charge all of the battery-powered units. The ones that charge more quickly scored better. The corded models got a lower score simply because you have to be near a plug to use them.

Design
Most of the hand vacuums we tested come with attachments for getting into folds in furniture or corners in staircases more easily. The crevice tool is long and narrow so it fits more easily around the base of car seats that are bolted to the car floor and more difficult to vacuum around. The Black & Decker Dustbuster has a crevice tool as part of the main body design rather than as a separate attachment. It also extends to give you a longer spout, adding to the maneuverability of the vacuum.

A wide-mouth tool, such as the one included with the MetroVac Vac N Go, gives you the ability to vacuum a larger area with one pass rather than having to continually repeat smaller passes to get up the same amount of mess.

When a Handheld Vacuum Isn’t Enough
Handheld vacuum cleaners are small and portable, which works for small messes and tricky surfaces such as stairs, furniture and cars. However, we have thoroughly tested vacuums of many sizes and for many uses.

Upright Vacuums – Upright vacuums are traditionally what people imagine when they think about vacuum cleaners. The entire vacuum is encompassed within the body of the unit, making it easy to pass over carpeting, and in many cases on hardwood, too. Upright vacuums can have an easily removable canister or require a bag to hold the dirt and dust. The Dyson Animal 2 is our top pick for upright vacuum cleaners.

Canister Vacuums – Canister vacuums are designed to clean your whole house. The attachments make it versatile so you can clean thick carpet, upholstery and drapes. The long hose that connects the vacuum wand to the canister makes it easier to maneuver through each room and around furniture without having to carry and plug in the vacuum as you move around a large area or between rooms. We found the Bissell Cyclonic canister vacuum easy to use while still being friendly on the household budget.

Shop Vacuums – The are high powered vacuums that can handle wet and dry messes both inside and outside of your home. Leaves, twigs and sawdust all are easy to pick up with these vacuums. While they do have a lot of power behind them, they are not heavy and are actually rather easy to maneuver around objects. Models such as the Vacmaster are more suited for outdoor use rather than for daily, indoor cleaning chores.

Robot Vacuums – Robot vacuums are the latest cleaning craze on the market. These intuitive vacuums can be programmed to move across your floor at certain times and in specified areas so you don’t have to worry about vacuuming as part of your daily cleaning regimen. The best robot vacuums, such as the bObsweep bObi, come with a remote control so that you can quickly pick up spills in between scheduled cleanings.

Carpet Cleaners – Carpet cleaners look like vacuums and are used in a similar way, but rather than sucking dirt, these machines are used to deep clean carpets using water. As you pass the cleaner over your carpet, part of the machine sprays soapy water over the dirty area while the suction hose pulls the muddied water back up and stores it in a waterproof canister. We found the Hoover SteamVac to be the best carpet cleaner, with the ability to pick up stains better than the competition during our tests.

Whether you need a handheld vacuum for cleaning your car or spot-cleaning in a busy household, hand vacs are the perfect solution for quick, effective tidying up. They are more portable and generally quieter than traditional vacuums.

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